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Ordinary students achieving extraordinary outcomes…

Posted April 30, 2012.

Ordinary students achieving extraordinary outcomes…

What an exciting accolade the College received in the Weekend Australian on Easter Saturday!  The newspaper commissioned an analysis of the 2011 NAPLAN results to identify the highest performing schools in the nation.

With nearly 10,000 schools in Australia, being ranked the 23rd highest performing primary school and the 61st highest performing secondary school is recognition of which all in the Clarendon community can be proud.

Ballarat Clarendon College was the only non-metropolitan school in each list and the highlight of the article was the College being named the Number 1 regional, rural and remote school in Australia.  We have achieved this honour in both 2010 and 2011.  It is recognition for the hard work of all our stakeholders and complements the outstanding VCE results we have achieved over the last decade.

Since the publication of the article, it has been gratifying to receive generous praise from many within our community and, to a person, they have spoken of their admiration for the outcomes achieved by our students and staff.

I have often written about the educational research that states clearly the only way to improve learning outcomes for students is to improve the quality of instruction.  This is how we manage to support our non-selective, ordinary students to achieve extraordinary outcomes.  It is hard work that needs the expert leadership that the Deputy Principal, Jan McClure, provides.  It is the result of the Literacy Learning team meeting fortnightly at 7.30am to share practice and develop their skills.  It is a consequence of the Maths, Science and History Learning teams working together to improve their instruction.  It is a result of our staff engaging with some of the best educational thinkers in the world in Toronto and Boston developing their skills.  We are fortunate that Lyn Sharratt, an international expert in teaching and learning, is part of our team and we are looking forward to welcoming her to the College next week for her third visit to help us in the next stage of our development.

Our uncompromising focus on instruction is the reason why our students achieve close to their potential.  These outstanding outcomes in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 also address the myth that our results in Year 12 come from removing “weaker” students from the school. This is offensive and trivialises the work of the staff and students.  This has never happened and will never happen.  It doesn’t happen in Year 12 and it doesn’t happen in other years.

As I have stated before, I think it clear that the College belief in a holistic education that encourages students to be involved in the performing arts and sport does not have to be at the cost of high quality outcomes.  Being cared for, having opportunities in a wide range of cocurricular activities, engaging in community service activities, and high quality outcomes are not mutually exclusive.  Not only are these possible but you can have a lot of fun achieving outcomes of the highest quality.

I want to congratulate all the students, parents and staff who have been involved in achieving these results and assure all involved at the College that we are committed to continuously improving our practice.

David Shepherd